Sports: Boys Basketball Clinches Overtime Win Against SHP Gators
The M-A Boys varsity basketball team fought through to the end, earning an overtime win against cross-town rival, the Sacred Heart Gators. The game consisted of a back and forth battle with the bears triumphing 59-57 at the final buzzer.
The Bears came out strong to start the game with senior Oliver Bucka winning the tip off to gain the first possession of the ball. The Bears jumped out to an early lead with Bucka scoring the first shot of the game, followed by two three-pointers from senior Royce Branning.
The Gators put up many shots during the first quarter, but not one of their shots fell until the last few seconds of the period, when they scored off two free throws. The Bears hit the defensive boards powerfully, taking possession of the ball off of the many Gators’ attempts, and earned a 10-2 lead after the first period.
After another three-pointer from Branning to begin the second quarter, the Gators began to press in attempt to challenge the Bears and slow down the offensive attacks. Their efforts were unsuccessful as the Bears easily broke the press, continuing to score. With the Gators putting up many shots as they struggled to get back in the game, senior Markus Guegler aggressively pulled down numerous rebounds for the Bears. M-A's ball handlers stepped up to lead the team with their rapid passing and decisive control of the offense, ending the period 18-14.
The Gators fought their way back into the game after half time, tying the game several minutes into the period. The strict referees awarded Guegler with a technical halfway through the quarter, giving the Gators an opening to take the lead. But key threes from Branning and senior Leland Callahan keep the Bears ahead. With Branning going two for two in his free throws with several seconds left, the Bears retained their lead to close out the period, 33-29.
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With both teams in foul trouble early in the fourth quarter, multiple players approached the line for one and one foul shots. With 42 seconds left in the game, the Gators got off a shot to tie the game, 43-43. Strong defense from both sides kept either from scoring any more shots, and the game was sent into overtime.
The Bears enter overtime with a surge of energy and impecable shooting, led by Branning and Callahan repeatedly sinking threes and each going 100% on their free throws. The Gators continued to fight, but in the end it was not enough, and the Bears grasped the win, 59-57.
Coach Molieri commented, “There was a lot of senior leadership during the game with Royce making some clutch threes.” He continued, “A win is a win at this time of the year…but we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Branning also stated, “We need to work on bearing down and not letting teams creep back once we have the lead.” Bucka added that the team “came out strong and played great team defense,” but that they “need to improve communication” on the court.